Braves promise cantilevered decks to get seats close to field, rendering shows nothing of the sort

The Atlanta Braves have announced they’ll be holding a groundbreaking for their new stadium in Cobb County on September 16, which is pretty meaningless, since they’ve already started work on the site, but hey, everybody loves a press conference with shovels, right? But what I found more interesting was this tidbit from the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s coverage of the team press release:

The stadium will seat 41,500, with the upper and middle of three decks cantilevered to push seats closer to the field, the Braves have said.

Cantilevering, for those who haven’t thought much about stadium architecture, is when you counterbalance the front of a deck of seats with a counterweight at the back of the section — it’s known to normal human beings as an overhang. I am somewhat of an evangelist for cantilevering, since it allows seats in the upper decks to be placed far closer to the field, with the only cost being that fans in the back of the expensive seats down below are in shadow — which apparently is considered completely unacceptable, since cantilevering has been more or less eliminated in all modern stadiums. The Braves actually told the AJC’s Tim Tucker about their cantilever promise back in June, but this is the first time I noticed it.

Anyway, here’s a rendering of the Braves’ new stadium:

There’s, um, no overhang. Also, there are five decks, not three.

All this could just be the result of a crappy initial rendering, or it could be that the Braves are bullshitting in their press statements — who can tell? I mean, the AJC could tell, but they apparently didn’t ask. Since June. I’ve given the paper lots of props for some excellent reporting on the Braves stadium mess, but come on, guys, at least do a little digging when the press release is visibly contradicted by the accompanying picture.

13 comments on “Braves promise cantilevered decks to get seats close to field, rendering shows nothing of the sort

  1. If anyone’s interested in an illustrative example of a stadium that does use cantilevering, look for pictures of Turner Field.

  2. Is cantilevering more expensive or is it that maximizing the experience for premium fans in club-level is more important than good views for the cheap seats?

  3. @MrDot – Yes. Both of those statements are true.

    Also it limits the space available for concessions and stores behind the stands, especially for the expensive seats.

  4. MrDot: The latter, mostly. Cantilevering can actually be cheaper, because it reduces the total footprint of the building. Though then you have less room for shopping.

  5. jmauro snuck in. I’d still say, from the statements I’ve heard from Populous/HOK and their ilk, that the main concern is the views from the lower deck.

  6. There’s an overhang in that rendering, but it’s minimal. You can see it if you compare the luxury/press box area behind home plate to the areas down the foul lines.

    More interesting point to me is the way teams define decks/bowls nowadays. In Braves the 1st/2nd levels are a deck and 4th/5th levels combine to make the upper deck. The 49ers took this to the greatest extreme. They count everything below their upper deck as part of a 45,000 seat lower bowl. The standard apparently is that as long as the seating levels share a concourse, they’re part of the same deck.

  7. I’m not sold on the “rendering shows nothing of the sort”-argument. It’s a drawing.

    You don’t have to have 20 rows of seats under the deck above you to have cantilevering, like Candlestick does/did. And this is just a drawing. It seems possible that you could have only the aisle behind these sections be under the deck above, and that would be a cantilevered structure.

  8. You don’t need cantilevering to have one row of seats under an overhang. Either that rendering is wrong, or “cantilevered to push seats closer to the field” is PR garbage.

  9. I am impressed that their drawing actually included cars. I counted 8 of them parallel parked in front of the stadium.

  10. Neil…

    I think the reason they say it is only 3 decks when it appears to be 5 is the way those levels are divided up. For instance, the top deck is 2 sections, so fans up there can see the action from the concourse. Target Field does this. Obviously, the lower deck is divided in 2 as well, so the super expensive seats can have their “moat” if you will, separating them from the common folk.

    As for the overhang issue, I feel like Target Field did a nice job of moving the upper decks closer. I’d say a good 10 rows, maybe more, are covered. I think the size of the Target Field footprint had a lot to do with this though.

  11. I haven’t made it to MN yet, so can’t say for sure. This doesn’t look like that dramatic an overhang, though:

  12. Pretty sure that picture’s not from the back row. But if you look closely, you’ll see the entire club level hangs out over the deck below (look along the 1st base line where that level ends and the party suites begin). So the first row of the upper deck starts at the back of the lower level, and not further back because of a second level below it (like Nationals Park for instance). Yes, the upper deck isn’t as close as it was in classic ballparks, but I think they did a better job keeping the top deck fans close than most newer ballparks